China really didn’t want Pokemon Go coming to the mainland. There was a big controversy that the game could pose a huge security risk for the country; conspiracies began to spur that the U.S.A., was planning on using Pokemon Go to spy on Chinese security forces by plotting out certain military installations thanks to the app’s use of Google Maps. Well, back in early December of 2017, Niantic overhauled the game’s map system away from Google Maps to obscure certain landmarks, and now they’ve attached themselves to NetEase in order to get a proper release in mainland China during the second half of 2018.
Financial Times is reporting that Chinese publisher and network tech giant, NetEase, is picking up the publishing rights for Niantic Labs’ Pokemon Go for a release in mainland China.
As some of you may know, foreign games can’t be officially released in China without a Chinese distributor or publisher being attached to the product. Now that Niantic has joined up with NetEase and have altered the map system, the company will likely see a massive surge of player engagement from the hundreds of millions of potential Chinese gamers in the mainland.
GamesIndustry.biz noted that Niantic’s player engagement for Pokemon Go has whittled over the months due to a lack of content updates and never having really properly stabilized the servers when it counted. However, to compensate for the drop-off, Niantic recently raised $200 million in funding to make the overhauls necessary to launch in mainland China, hoping to compensate for the players they lost in other regions of the world with the massive Chinese mobile market.
If PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is any indication of how much influence the Chinese market can have on the popularity of a game, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pokemon Go sees its largest market share from China once it launches in the latter half of 2018.